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Add to My CitationsTo Elisha Bliss, Jr.
8 August 1876 • Elmira, N.Y.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCCL 01356)
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Elmira, Aug. 8.

Friend Bliss:1

Everything O. K. So that’s all right. I will remark, though, in passing, that no proposition has ever been made to Dustin of any kind—& none received from Dustin—so that report falls to the ground.2 I have made propositions to no publisher.

Yes, I like the idea of issuing Nov. 1st—or Dec. 1st or 15th,—whichever date seems best. What I am after is the best date. of the three. Choose it yourself. If you think it best to issue Dec. 15, & begin canvassing Nov. 1st 4 or 5 weeks before that date, all right. That would make it essentially a holiday book & give it its very best chance, perhaps.

But if you prefer another date, let it be Nov. 1st, so as to get the month or 5 weeks’ canvassing done before the election.

I think the advantage lies with Dec. 15—don’t you?

But whichever date is chosen, let us make sure to be out promptly on that very day, & with an edition that will amply supply every order, so that there shall be no complaint on that head.3

I remember, now, you explained the inexpediency of offering prizes, once before. So that may as well be dropped.4

I want the “Atlantic” notice of “Sawyer” to be put into the prospectus & in the slips that go to editors, for I think & a line or two of it in your advertisements, for I think it will have a good effect.5 I wish I had some of the English notices, but I suppose they have been thrown aside & lost at my house in Hartford, as I did not order any newspapers to be forwarded here.

I have just returned Chap. 10, or 11, I forget which—of Sawyer. They are admirably clean, nice proofs. One does not curse & swear over them.

[ H ] I have received Warner’s book, & it is a very handsome piece of typograpl hy &c. Haven’t read but 1st Chap—only got it last night.6

Let me know which of the two dates of publication you decide to use,.

The enclosed notice, from the Spectator has just come. I have bracketed good sentences in it, but it is all good, & possibly you can find use for it.

Chatto and Windus think

Company here to dinner—so I will quit.



[enclosure:] 7

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. By Mark Twain (Chatto and
Windus.)—This tale of boy-life on the other side of the Atlantic will
amuse many readers, old as well as young. There is a certain fresh-
ness and novelty about it, a practically romantic character, so to speak,
which will make it very attractive. Desert islands and the like are all
very well to read about, but boys know that they are not likely to come
in their way; but an island in the Mississippi where they can really
play Robinson Crusoe, catch fish to eat, and in a way, actually live like
real runaways, looks true. Altogether, Tom Sawyer’s lot was cast in a
region not so tamed down by conventionalities, as is that in which English
boys are doomed to live. Hence he had rare opportunities, and saw rare
sights, actual tragedies, which our tamer life is content to read about in
books. Of course, what Mark Twain writes is sure to be amusing. There
are passages in this volume which no gravity could resist. Notably there
is that in which is detailed Tom’s experience with the “pain-killer,”
which his too-careful aunt administered to him in the hope of benefiting
his health. For a while, Tom was content to hand it over to a crack
in the floor. But one day the cat came along and begged for a share,
and the temptation was irresistible. The animal, of course, performed
the most amazing antics before the old lady’s eyes. Tom, asked for an
explanation, demurely answers “’Deed, I don’t know, Aunt Polly; cats
always act so when they’re having a good time.” Pressed with the truth,
and asked why he had treated “that poor dumb beast so,” he continues,
“I done it out of pity for him,—because he hadn’t any aunt.” Tom
is certainly a book to be read.


[letter docketed by Bliss:] check mark Private [and by his staff:] Saml L. Clemens | Elmira | Aug 8 ″76 N.Y.

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 The letter that Clemens answered, which answered his of 22 July, is not known to survive.

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2 Charles E. Dustin’s and Julius S. Gilman’s Hartford subscription publishing firm, Dustin, Gilman and Company, was a rival of Bliss’s American Publishing Company (L6, 91 n. 2, 120 n. 3; Geer 1876, 64).

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3 The date finally chosen for publication of the American edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was 8 December 1876 (TS 1980, 25).

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4 For Clemens’s proposal of a prize incentive for book agents, see 22 July 76 to Bliss.

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5 Howell’s review of Tom Sawyer had appeared prematurely in the May 1876 Atlantic Monthly (see 3 Apr 76 and 26 Apr 76, both to Howells; Howells 1876). It is not known if it was used in the subscription sales prospectus or other promotional materials.

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6 Mummies and Moslems, which Clemens had requested on 1 August.

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7 A clipping of this review, from the London Spectator of 15 July 1876 (901), must have been sent by Moncure Conway, in his unrecovered letter of mid-July (see 1 Aug 76 to Conway, n. 1).The clipping does not survive with the letter; it is transcribed here from the Spectator in a line-by-line simulation.

glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, CU-MARK. The enclosed clipping from the London Spectator for 15 July 1876, 901, does not survive. The text is transcribed from a microfilm copy of the newspaper.

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph MTLP, 104–5: MicroML, reel 4.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphSee Mendoza Collection in Description of Provenance.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph

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